Since opening in 2015, Surry Hills restaurant Folonomo has given 100 per cent of its profits to charity. The forerunner and sister restaurant to more recently launched cafes Portal and Symbol, Folonomo set the standard for what a not-for-profit eatery could be: stylish, covetable and popular. Now, the restaurant has closed – or rather, it’s changed its business model.
It’s been converted into an events space for parties and pop-ups, and is encouraging Sydney’s top chefs to step forward to give back. And they’re starting off strong.
The first chef to hop on board the all-new Folonomo is Jarrod Walsh, owner and head chef of Newtown’s Hartsyard (formerly of Automata). He’ll be hosting a seven-course, completely vegetarian dinner on August 15 with his partner, chef Dorothy Lee (formerly of Saga and Momofuku Seiobo).
The degustation will include dishes such as shiitake mushrooms with buttermilk and lemon thyme, and citrus blood-orange cream with marigold. Plus there’ll be a cocktail (whiskey, black tea and grapefruit) served on arrival. Tickets are $95 and all proceeds go towards HopeForOllie, which supports research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Diners will have the option to pair their dishes with local wines for an extra fee.
“We’re bringing in our charcoal Japanese grill, which will be fun to play with, and there’ll be a bit of a Hartsyard vibe at Folonomo with maybe the odd Metallica song on the playlist,” Walsh said in a statement.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a hospitality business but we’ve got to remember what else is going on in our community, and support where we can.”
Hugh Piper of Dear Sainte Eloise will host the second dinner on August 29. The Potts Point chef will be dishing up a nine-course Peruvian feast, inspired by time recently spent in lauded Lima restaurant Astrid y Gastón. All profits from the night will go to mental health non-profit Beyond Blue.
“I’m supporting Beyond Blue due to mental health being such a big issue in the hospitality industry,” Piper said in a statement. “There are so many pressures on chefs: the long hours, intense stress of striving for perfection every day and being judged on your food by customers and food critics. Beyond Blue does so much good by providing crucial information and crisis support for all Australians.”
Piper – whose mum’s family is Peruvian – will be serving specialties such as ocean-trout ceviche dressed with soy, dashi and Peruvian chilli; Pacific Reef cobia topped with mandarin-vinegar leche de tigre; and pumpkin doughnuts covered in fig-leaf syrup, a Peruvian street favourite.
Diners will start the night with Pisco Sours and will be able to enjoy matching wines from high-altitude South American wineries at an extra cost. Piper will be bringing his mate Peter Richardson (Monopole) to work front-of-house.
If you’d prefer to be behind the pans than being fed, The Pure Collective – which owns Folonomo, Portal and Symbol – is encouraging chefs and restaurants to host events in the space and donate proceeds to charities. They’ll have the full use of Folonomo’s existing staff, and The Pure Collective will make donations to the charity chosen by the host, as long as it “genuinely makes the world a better place”.